Some musings, fundamental stuff for most of you I imagine, but still, background on the noodling I continue to do around my shadow next book, over at the Amex site where I’m contributing some thoughts from time to time as part of an FM brokered marketing program. From it:
At its core, the Web is a network of computers. As businesspeople, we’ve been in dialog with computers for some time now. But back in the 1960s and 1970s, computers were hulking machines meant for the back offices of Very Large Companies, not small businesses. These machines had a very particular interface – a command line into which you were required to type an arcane “computer language” to get anything done. The number of people who spoke this language were understandably low, and therefore, the number of people in the world who were having “conversations with machines” was also quite low.
In the 1980s, we all got “personal computers,” and thanks to the graphical user interface – “GUI” – millions of us starting talking with computers. But the conversation was hardly fluent. I call this the “hunt and poke” era of computing – we used a mouse to navigate a representational desktop; when we found something we wanted, we poked at it until it came alive for us. This gesticulative interface – not unlike what the wordless signals we employ while in a foreign land in need of the bathroom – is a step forward, but it sure doesn’t scale.
And then the Internet came along. And everything changed. Now we were not just navigating our desktops, or the back office computer files. We were navigating mankind’s possible knowledge base. The whole shootin’ match. Clearly, not a place we could hunt and poke our way through. We needed a new interface. And we found one, in search.